The Dreamer Sees the Real Thing
A fellow drove into the parking lot of our Pete Dye course beside the river. He parked his Mercedes-Benz with California plates in the shade of our live oak trees and walked into the golf shop and asked to see my son Tinsley, the head pro.
This visitor was a good-looking man with an athletic build. His clothes were top quality. His shoes were shined. His face glowed with health. Tinsley invited him into the grill room so they could have a glass of iced tea at a comfortable table while he waited to hear what the man wanted.
"When I was a kid, I was a terrific player," began his story. "Junior championships, state high school champ, played for a university team that did well in the nationals. Got married my senior year. I wanted to try the pro tour, but instead I started in sales for my father-in-law's company and made more money playing golf with clients my first year than any rookie on the pro tour made grinding his heart out.
"I've kept my game in good shape. My handicap is a traveling 4. In the last year, I've had a 68 at the Old Course, a 70 at Pebble Beach, a 70 at Pine Valley, for example, and there was one great day when I shot a 67 at Riviera. For a CEO who has made more money than he knows what to do with, and also has a handsome wife and family, I can really play golf."
Tinsley congratulated him on his success.
"But I'm not satisfied," the fellow said.
"Why not?" Tinsley asked.
"I still want to play on the pro tour."
Tinsley drank his tea and waited.
"This is no pipedream," the fellow said. "I'm talking about the Senior Tour. I'm forty-three years old. I have sold my company for a very large sum. I'm free now to do whatever I want. My plan is to move my family here and buy a house beside your golf course.
"Every morning for the next seven years I will show up on your doorstep, rain or shine. I want daily lessons from you, and I'd like your father to check me every week or so. I'll hit five hundred practice balls a day. I'll play golf every day from the tips on this very tough course. Soon as I reach the age of fifty, I'll turn pro and join the Senior Tour. I'll pay you and your father whatever you ask, if you'll agree to get me ready. What do you say?"
Tinsley didn't need long to think it over.
"Let me tell you about one of our club members," Tinsley said. "Like you, he's forty-three years old, and he's made all the money he'll ever need. He has a handsome wife and family. He practices golf every day, and he plays golf nearly every day. He's getting ready for the Senior Tour in seven more years. At this tough golf course, his handicap is a plus-4. He is your competition. He is the player you are going to have to learn to beat if you are going to go on the Senior Tour. I really don't want to spend seven years of my life trying to help you to do that. Not for any price.
"There's the man I'm talking about -- he's sitting over by the window, eating a club sandwich."
Tinsley gestured toward Tom Kite.
Copyright © 1996 by Bud Sharake, Helen Penick and the Estate of Harvey Penick